Skip to comments.As Food Prices Soar, So Do Sales Of Spam
Posted on 05/29/2008 3:20:01 AM PDT by Daffynition
(AP) Love it, hate it or laugh at it - at least it's inexpensive.
Sales of Spam - that much maligned meat - are rising as consumers are turning more to lunch meats and other lower-cost foods to extend their already stretched food budgets.
What was once cheeky, silly and the subject of a musical (as Monty Python mocked the meat in a can), is now back on the table as people turn to the once-snubbed meat as costs rise, analysts say.
Food prices are increasing faster than they've risen since 1990, at 4 percent in the U.S. last year, according to the Agriculture Department. Many staples are rising even faster, with white bread up 13 percent last year, bacon up 7 percent and peanut butter up 9 percent.
There's no sign of a slowdown. Food inflation is running at an annualized rate of 6.1 percent as of April, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The price of Spam is up too, with the average 12 oz. can costing about $2.62. That's an increase of 17 cents, or nearly 7 percent, from the same time last year. But it's not stopping sales, as the pork meat in a can seems like a good alternative to consumers.
Kimberly Quan, a stay-at-home mom of three who lives just outside San Francisco, has been feeding her family more Spam in the last six months as she tries to make her food budget go further.
She cooks meals like Spam fried rice and Spam sandwiches two or three times a month, up from once a month previously.
Pulling Spam from the shelf prevents last-minute grocery store trips and overspending, said Quan, 38, of Pleasanton, Calif.
"It's canned meat and it's in the cupboard and if everything else is gone from the fridge, it's there," she said.
Spam's maker, Hormel Foods Corp., reported last week that it saw strong sales of Spam in the second quarter, helping push up its profits 14 percent. According to sales information coming from Hormel, provided by The Nielsen Co., Spam sales were up 10.6 percent in the 12-week period ending May 3, compared to last year. In the last 24 weeks, sales were up nearly 9 percent.
The Austin, Minn.-based company, also known for the Jennie-O Turkey Store, has embarked on its first national advertising campaign for the 71-year-old brand in several years. They've credited the sales increase to that, along with new products like individually packaged "Spam Singles" slices. Also helping sales, executives said in an earnings conference call, was the fact that people looking to save money are skipping restaurant meals and eating more at home.
Spam sales are reaching across all spectrums, young and old and rich and poor, said Swen Neufeldt, Hormel's group product manager for the area that includes Spam. Many of the eaters are new to Spam, which was created in 1937 and gained fame as the meat that fed Allied troops during World War II.
"We have significantly increased our household penetration," Neufeldt said. "I think it's a lot of folks that are coming into the brand perhaps for the first time and coming back to the brand."
According to the U.S. Agriculture Department, prices of staple foods are rising at extremely high rates. White bread is up 13 percent, bacon is up 7 percent and peanut butter is up 9 percent. Hormel began its national advertising campaign, including print and television, for Spam in January. Neufeldt said such campaigns are planned in advance and it wasn't tied to perceived weakness in the economy.
Consumers are quick to realize that meats like Spam and other processed foods can be substituted for costlier cuts as a way of controlling costs, said Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst with Mintel International in Chicago.
These products have protein and decent nutritional value, and they provide some variety to consumers who may be bored because they're eating more at home, she said.
"They might not have Spam at every single meal, but they might supplement a couple of meals," she said.
Consumers are also using more coupons and paying more attention to sales, doing anything they can to save money, she said. You may be able to cut back on your driving due to high gas prices, but you're not going to stop eating because of high food prices, she said.
Quan just bought a couple more cans of Spam on sale and some ramen, the instant noodle dish long a staple on college campuses. Her food and gas budgets are together, so she's had to cut back on food spending while the cost of gas increases. Her favorite Spam meal? Spam and macaroni and cheese. She doesn't skimp on nutrition, though. Quan serves her husband and three children - ranging in age from 4 to 11 - organic vegetables like salads, broccoli and carrots.
"It balances out," she said.
Other companies are seeing similar boosts in their lunch meats. Kraft Foods Inc. reported last month that subsidiary Oscar Mayer, which makes hot dogs, bacon and cold cuts, saw double-digit revenue growth in the previous quarter in its Deli Fresh cold cuts. The company, based in Madison, Wis., has recently introduced new products including family sized deli-meat packs and deli carved, which offers thicker slices of meat.
April Smith has been changing the way she feeds her family in Broken Arrow, Okla., to keep up with rising costs. This summer the 33-year-old administrative assistant will feed her two boys, ages 11 and 8, more ramen for lunch. Normally they eat the noodle soup on Saturdays, but since ramen costs about a dime per pack, they'll get it twice a week. Smith says she'll throw in some leftover frozen vegetables to make it more nutritious.
"Since it's cheap and easy, I figure why not let them eat it twice a week instead of once a week," Smith said.
Sure you can. I do it all the time, at least 2x a month especially in the winter. 10 lb chicken - Sunday, roast chicken (mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, vegs). In a day or so, hot roast chicken sandwiches, use up the rest of the stuffing, and mashed potatoes. Pick it apart with your fingers, getting any decent sized pieces off and tearing them up. There’s your casserole pieces, say with bowtie pasta, mixed veggies or throw some broccoli/cauliflower/carrot chunks in, some frozen peppers from the garden, any gravy leftovers. Maybe a can of cream of chicken or mushroom if it’s thin, a can of milk and bake. Just like those frozen bags of skillet dinners you can buy now but much, much better.
**THEN**, you take whatever is left. Bones, meat, skin, bits of dripping off the serving platter and throw it in the stock pot. Chop up and throw in an onion, several large carrots and stalks of celery, some buillion. Let it simmer for awhile and cool, then strain. There is still going to be a ton of meat there, most people throw it away. You have to pick through it with your fingers, throw the scraps away (skin, bones, squishy carrot, lol). When you’re done, you have enough stock for a soup or stew, along with meat already in it. Cook some diced up carrots and potatoes, frozen peas and top with biscuit dough when it’s boiling and you’ve got stew with dumplings. Or cook it in the oven with crust and you’ve got pot pie.
The turkey that fed us for 8 days was 25 lbs so I had more to work with. People throw away an awful lot of meat with the carcass if they don’t stew and pick it. Sometimes I’ll just stew it and get my stock then freeze that until I’m ready to use it. There are usually at least one or two meals left on the birds when most people throw it out. I’ve been doing it for 23 years, as my mother and her mother did. It can be done.
LOL at your ‘getting tired of it’. I still remember on payday that week asking hubby “I’m going grocery shopping tonight, is there anything you want me to pick up?” and his reply was “RED MEAT!!”
During the infamous Week Of The Turkey (although that was the first, it wasn’t the only week we’ve had to do that over the years) we ate well too. One of the things I made that week (desperate or just creative?) was turky spaghetti. I did have a jar of Ragu and I threw in a lot of bite sized pieces of turkey and added a bunch of parmesan cheese. It turned out to be one of my sons’ favorite meals and I still make it to this day, chicken or turkey. One nice thing about cooking with a whole chicken like that is you pretty much have several meals that week that are good and *fast*, after the initial roast on Sunday and the time spent stewing and picking. *That* is how you eat homecooked and well, year after year.
Okay, where do you buy this 10 lb. chicken? I just called the meat department at the grocery and they laughed when I asked if I could buy a 10 pounder. They said 5 or 6 is very large. You would have to buy a turkey if you wanted 10 lbs. Do you buy them at a special place? I was raised on a farm and we sold chickens and eggs and never dressed out a 10 lb. chicken.
I buy them at Walmart, Perdue Oven Stuffer. Before Walmart came to town, I bought them at Farm Fresh. Sometimes at Farm Fresh it was the ‘store brand’ of whole chicken. They don’t always come that big but I’ll buy the biggest one they have. I can still do all the stuff I mentioned with an 8lb bird and sometimes that’s all I have to work with. Capons usually are about 8-10lbs. Large, whole chickens are getting harder to find because most people want skinless breasts or ready to reheat chicken pieces.
My 21 year old son laughed when I told him about this thread and he said “You do amazing things with one chicken. I’ve seen you do it all my life.” I even buy a whole chicken cut up if that’s all I can get (and that’s usually only about $3 or $4) and stew that. Then I’ll get a couple meals out of just that. It’s that Yankee ingenuity and thriftiness I suppose.
What area of the country do you live in? I'm wondering about that big chicken and where I can find it....
I’m going to make it a point to buy a few cans this weekend, just to add to the run on SPAM!! LOL
LOL! I did that with rice, when they mentioned the rice shortage. Now I have a What’s for dinner this week: stuffed peppers with rice, rice puddin’, peppersteak with rice, fried rice, chicken’n’rice soup, beans’n’rice.... RICE, RICE, RICE!